Burmese youth drowns at Cranberry Lake
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
September 1, 2011 · 10:05 AM
An 18-year-old refugee from Burma drowned while swimming at a Deception Pass State Park lake Saturday afternoon, according to the Island County Coroner’s Office.
Sang Cung Hnin was at Cranberry Lake with a group of friends from a Kent church group when the tragedy occurred. Hnin and his family escaped from Burma, which is officially known as the military-dominated Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and had been living in Malaysia prior to moving to Kent just two weeks ago.
Island County Coroner Robert Bishop said he could find no explanation for the drowning. An autopsy revealed that Hnin was a completely healthy young man and his family members confirmed that he was a strong swimmer.
Bishop said he could only speculate that perhaps Hnin may have cramped while he was in the water.
On Saturday, Hnin and members of his church group were swimming in the deeper of two areas of the lake sectioned off for swimming. Members of the group saw Hnin raise his arms and yell for help before going under.
“There wasn’t a lot of warning. It just happened so fast,” said Jack Hartt, manager of Deception Pass State Park.
A man on the shore called 911 just after 3 p.m.
Hartt said park rangers and volunteers quickly searched for Hnin, but were unable to find him. Hartt said there was no visibility near the bottom of 10 to 12 feet of water. Park Ranger Benjamin Cooksey formed a shoulder-to-shoulder search line of park staff and volunteers; they dove down every five feet or so.
Finally, Cooksey found Hnin’s body and pulled him to shore. Bishop said 57 minutes elapsed from the 911 call to when they got him to shore. He was taken to the hospital, but it was too late.
Hnin’s official cause of death is listed as an accidental drowning.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.